Dumfries & Galloway Health & Social Care

Understanding Low Mood for Professionals

What is Depression/ Low Mood?

  • Depression is one of the most common mental disorders experienced in the general population.
  • A diagnosis of Depression is defined by the ongoing presence of at least 5 out of 10 depressive symptoms, that must be present most of the day, nearly every day, for a minimum period of 2 weeks.
  • One of these symptoms must be depressed mood or markedly diminished interest or pleasure in activities.
  • The mood disturbance must result in significant functional impairment and not be a manifestation of another health condition, due to the effects of a substance or medication, or better accounted for by bereavement.
  • A depressive episode is diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe depending on the intensity of the depressive symptoms and the degree of functional impairment.

If depression is suspected it may be helpful to signpost the person to their GP who can carry out a physical examination that may include blood tests or urine samples to rule out any physical health concern that may precipitate symptoms of depression.

If there is a concern for the person’s safety due to risk of self harm/risk of harming others or suicide and there is a suspected mental health condition, then a consultation with a member of the team at CAMHS may be more appropriate in the first instance.

When to refer to CAMHS?

  • Please contact CAMHS if you have any concerns regarding risk to self or others in the context of a suspected mental health condition.
  • Go to the professionals referral section for more information.
  • Professionals may be able to offer a consultation to discuss whether a referral to specialist services such as CAMHS is indicated.

What should I tell the family?

  • It is important to let the family know that diagnosis and treatment is explored as a team, not necessarily led by a consultant psychiatrist.
  • There are many ways to help a child or young person experiencing depression that does not require use of medication.
  • Prescribing medication carries its own risks and any treatment plan indicated involves active participation with the young person, families and agencies involved in a contracted and clear way.

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